Sunday, 5 June 2022

A Cat for the Mantlepiece? Yes Please, Juno!

Yes, Junichi and Yukari Yananose have done it again! They have created a masterpiece that is fun to solve, a nice challenge for a puzzlebox newbie like me and have also made something that Mrs S approves of and wants displayed in the living room.

Back view
Mittan is the name of their own rather lovely Ginger cat (I have a photo so I know that she is lovely). I cannot resist these puzzles from Juno and despite the relatively steep price, I immediately decided it was a must buy. I also knew that Mrs S, as an archetypal crazy cat lady, would not object to this one (I haven't actually told her the price though). We originally started with our lovely Burmese cats in the hope that having real cats might decrease or even stop the ever increasing accumulation of cat substitutes around the house (this was silly of me in retrospect). The entire house has cats stuff everywhere and now it has one more item. Juno absolutely despises the puzzle flippers who only buy to make a profit and hence the price was made high (the woods and work carried out were quite expensive) and for this reason he also made a larger number than usual - 150 in total (as of writing this there remain 13 in stock). The woods making up this startlingly beautiful puzzle include Zebrano, Golden Sassafras, Fijian Mahogany, American Black Walnut, Europian Beech, Amoora, Silver Ash and metal parts (including magnets). It was initially available with the opportunity to buy either dark, medium or lighter Zebrano but the dark has sold out. I actually chose a medium to have a very marked grain pattern. I was not disappointed - it is stunning and even Mrs S liked it.

There are two aims with this puzzle - to see how they managed to put a bell on(?in) the cat and to find the fish that Mittan has eaten - it is supposed to be a Taiyaki (a sweet in the shape of a sea bream). I am not going to take you through the solution - you need to buy it or borrow a copy and do it for yourself. 

The solution of this actually took me a whole week! It arrived unbelievably quickly considering the distance that it had gone and I set to straight away. There are a few pieces that are obviously intended to be manipulated and quite quickly a sequence of interesting moves builds up. After a short while you get to do things that you really shouldn't be doing to a cat but try to bear in mind that it's not a real cat and carry on. After the first few moves, I had a couple of pieces and got stuck. It is quite different to the other SD puzzles from Pluredro and nothing I had done before was terribly helpful. Eventually, I worked out what the next move needed to be and I had a new tool and a possible place to use it. My initial attempts at using that tool completely failed - the rest of the puzzle needed to be in the correct positions for it's use to work. Eventually the dismemberment continued...poor Mittan!

Continuing my odyssey into cat dissection, I reached a point where I had more tools and an obvious way to use one of the new ones but it was locked tight. This needed some of Allard's thinking© and I proceeded to dribble into my coffee in the evening. One more Aha! moment produced a critical movement......of about 4mm before it stopped dead. Flummoxed again! I tried the same move over and over and over again in the hope that maybe I had done it wrong the first 8 or 10 times. Needless to say, nothing changed with subsequent attempts and I proved that I met the criteria for madness...again!

At some point I did wonder to myself whether the prize inside might have blocked the mechanism but I know Juno too well. This just does NOT happen with his puzzles. I was missing something. In fact, I missed it for 5 evenings of increasing desperation. Finally, whilst idly playing with all the pieces in a pile, I made an unexpected discovery. Now that should not be there! Unless, of course, Juno had put it there for a reason! I looked for any way that I could use my discovery and I was rewarded with a sudden movement of the piece I wanted. I finally had the bell from/for poor Mittan. It is hidden behind the spoiler button (it's not much of a spoiler but don't risk it unless you really want to).

Once you have found the bell, you have also found the fish that Mittan had eaten:

At least he didn't put a loaf of bread in it - this proves it's NOT a box
The reassembly back to a complete cat with all the pieces inside is a nice sequence which only partly needs to be a reverse of what you did to open it up. I loved it and have done the whole thing multiple times since my first solve. The clever (and not hugely difficult) solution is fun to do and does have an element of the worry bead in several parts. I did not show the dismemberment to my own boy despite him sleeping on my lap through much of it. I didn't want to give him nightmares as he already wakes me up at 5am every day demanding food and attention!

Having finally finished playing with this wonderful creation, which, I must say, was worth every penny of the price. I asked Mrs S whether I should put it into my display cabinets with the rest of Juno's puzzles? She actually said that it should go on display on our mantlepiece alongside quite a few other animal figurines and puzzles:

An embarrassment of cats!
There are several cat puzzles on show (Maahes the line from Stephan Baumegger, Burrlephant from Jerry McFarland, Jack Krijnen's Bison from Jakub Dvořák and the Elephant also from Jakub Dvořák. As you can see, there are quite a few porcelain cats and the elephants that I inherited from my late mother (she grew up in Kenya and had elephants in her garden as a kid).

I think I might just attempt one of the new twisty puzzles next. I do still want to try and review puzzles that are a little less expensive to help the puzzlers out there who may be a little more price constrained than me.


  1. Excellent, thank you. Mittan puzzle is sold out shortly after your blog post. I am also glad that you enjoyed the fish-shaped cake instead of a loaf of bread.

    1. My work is done! I am so glad that I helped you sell your wonderful creation.
      I am delighted with cake (it would have been hilarious if there was bread as well!)